The importance of learning to write well is increasingly overlooked. In the Information Age, we can communicate in real time without formality or even the need to speak face to face. As a result, too few professionals see the need to develop their writing skills.
This is particularly true for recent graduates entering the job market for the first time.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 73.4% of companies want a candidate with strong written communication skills.
Yet the sad truth is that the US Public School system turns out few graduates who can write well. In 2017, the Department of Education carried out a study titled ‘The Nation’s Report Card: Writing 2011.’
The study found that just 24% of students in grades 8 and 12 were able to meet the standards for writing proficiency. This statistic is alarming. An inability to write can seriously hinder career advancement.
Landing a Job
Before you can start working at your dream job, you have to land it.
While your field may not seem writing intensive, creating a resume and cover letter that outshines the competition takes skill.
When flipping through hundreds of resumes, hiring managers often immediately dismiss resumes with grammar and spelling mistakes.
The formatting of your resume is a sign of how responsible and intelligent you are. Employers believe that if you can’t catch grammar mistakes, you won’t catch on the job mistakes either. This is applicable for any field.
You might be wondering “Why can’t I outsource my resume to someone who will edit my grammar mistakes?” The answer is, you can. But only you can present your history effectively. Only you can write a cover letter or statement of interest that shows who you are and why you are a good fit for a company.
The average American changes jobs every 3 to 4 years. Resume writing and job applications are skills that people need throughout their careers.
In the Workplace
For those who pass the hiring process and begin working, writing remains a crucial skill.
Below are a few real-world examples of the importance of writing well.
-In the medical field, writing is becoming much more important than it used to be. Nurses must document and describe their patient care daily to a very detailed degree. Guidelines become more stringent each year as hospitals push for greater accountability. Training is provided to give nurses time effective writing skills that keep doctors and hospitals in the loop.
– Accountants must be able to communicate the nature of a company’s finances in a way that management can understand. Explaining in a meeting is not enough. They must write effectively in order for their expertise to be remembered, digested and understood.
– Engineers and IT experts who do not write well can have exceptional difficulty in getting their ideas implemented. Management does not have the technical expertise. unless ideas are presented in a clear and compelling manner, they won’t understand why more money should be poured into research and development when it could be spent on advertising or current operations.
In any field, not writing well, particularly as you climb the career ladder, can have devastating effects.
In a 2011 Graduate Management Admission Council survey, 86% of respondents identified strong communication skills as one of the most valuable tools an applicant can possess.
If you have subpar writing skills there are concrete steps you can take to improve.
What You Can Do
The good news is that many companies are taking action to improve the skills of their workforce. Studies by experts at Right Management, show a 25% increase in employers that provide development opportunities. Even if your employer doesn’t emphasize continuing education, there’s plenty that you can do.
It is never too late to learn how to write well.
There are plenty of great free resources out there on the internet today!
One of my favorite free learning sites is edx.org. It provides free online courses from Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley and more. They have wonderful writing courses. It’s an opportunity that I personally create the time to take advantage of.
Reputable publishers regularly publish articles like this one from Harvard on how to write effectively for different fields: Harvard Business Review: How to Improve Your Business Writing
Most University students are familiar with the Purdue University OWL site for resources on writing. Few realize that it also publishes resources for writing in different technical fields.
Continuing with our examples, below are resources for engineers and nurses. Take a look at the detailed writing skills needed for fields that are math, science, and hands on. Every field needs to be able to write well.
- Purdue University: Resources for Writing in Engineering
- Purdue University: Writing as a Professional Nurse
While many resources are free, trade organizations often provide learning courses at low prices.
One example is The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants course on writing: Grammar and Effective Writing for Accountants
These resources are available for any career. Do a bit of online research for opportunities to get the specific writing skills you need to succeed.
Free Online Grammar and Editing Tools
Grammarly: a comprehensive spelling and grammar tool, identifies errors and provides solutions.
If you struggle with clarity, The Free Hemingway Editor can help eliminate wordiness.
There are also free online templates that help craft emails, resumes, cover letters, receipts, invoices, and anything else you can imagine. Newer versions of Microsoft Word have these templates embedded. It just takes a bit of searching.
With so much to gain from improving your writing, investing in these skills is a no-brainer. Let us know what you think about writing in your field and tell us about your learning journey!